The saga revolving around Horace Don Gresham's political career is over, for the time being at least.
Gresham withdrew his candidacy for the District 2 seat on the Newton County Board of Education Wednesday minutes before a special hearing called to address alleged inaccuracies concerning his qualification.
However, in a letter to the board of elections, he vowed to run for the Newton County Board of Commissioners in 2010.
The Board of Elections called the meeting after receiving several challenges protesting his candidacy when it was revealed Gresham violated language in the Affidavit of Candidacy stemming from a 1988 felony sodomy conviction in DeKalb County.
But the hearing never happened. Instead, Gresham sent his statement to the board stating his withdrawal.
"It is because this state we live in does not keep probation records after the probation is completed and the fact the District 2 school board only pays $600 per month and the fact that it will cost me several thousand dollars to go to federal court to force the sate of Georgia to show the month and the fee that I paid on my last visit with a probation officer, I am withdrawing my bid to run for District 2 school board seat in the 2008 election," Gresham stated in the withdrawal letter.
The three women who challenged Gresham's candidacy attended Wednesday's hearing prepared to defend their protests. But Board of Elections Chairman Hugh Steele announced Gresham's withdrawal, leaving the challengers with mixed feelings.
"I really wish I had the opportunity to see him face-to-face and tell him what I thought of him, but other than that, mission accomplished," said Gresham's neighbor Nikkia Lovejoy. "I think that anyone who commits a crime of moral turpitude and in this case sodomy should never be allowed to run for public office, especially one that can be around children."
Fellow challenger Annette Harmon agreed with Lovejoy and added Newton County residents could still be subject to another political play for power from Gresham someday down the road.
"I'm glad he's off the ballot," said a relieved Harmon. "But it does not stop him from running for office again in the future. That, I believe, needs to be the next step."
Harmon may be right. According to his letter, the 71 year-old retired postal worker plans to challenge for the District 2 seat on the BOC during the next election and said this year's attempt at the BOE served as merely a test run.
"That is what this test that I have run, to see what the voter's of my district think," stated Gresham. "I believe over 99.9 percent of them believe in forgiveness, therefore I will run for the District 2 Board of Commissioner's seat when it comes up for a vote in two years."
Newton County Republican Party Chairman Steve Bray also attended the hearing and said he is glad the ordeal is finally over.
"I feel greatly relieved," Bray said. "This is the honorable thing that he should have done back a week ago. He should have withdrawn no later than last Monday. You shouldn't have to have your community stand up against you."
Still, Gresham's candidacy may have exposed a hole in the state's political process - one that Bray hopes can be closed in the future.
"I would like the legislature to act on that (mandating background checks)," Bray added. "I think there will probably be something to come out about background checks in the next session. We have to protect the citizens but at the same time a person's private life is their private life. In this case, it was a matter of public record but we didn't have public knowledge."